Toughen climate action every five years, United Nations draft suggests

: A bulldozer moves trash for recycling at a sorting centre near Paris in advance of the upcoming United Nations' (UN) COP21 international climate conference.
: A bulldozer moves trash for recycling at a sorting centre near Paris in advance of the upcoming United Nations' (UN) COP21 international climate conference.PHOTO: AFP

OSLO (REUTERS) - All nations should agree to toughen curbs on greenhouse gas emissions every five years under a United Nations accord to combat global warming due in December, according to a first suggested text of a UN agreement on Monday.

The 20-page accord, slashing a previous text of more than 80, is a step towards a deal due at a summit in Paris from Nov. 30-Dec 11 by narrowing down core elements of an agreement. It leaves many details unclear, such as the role of carbon markets.

While the draft gives no details of how quickly curbs would have to be ratcheted up, regular reviews are vital because the United Nations says national plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions are not strong enough to keep temperatures below a U.N. ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.

The text, drawn up by the two UN experts who oversee the talks among almost 200 nations, suggests all countries should publish plans for tougher action every five years under the Paris accord, which maps out actions beyond 2020.

Some nations want reviews only once every decade, or only for rich countries.

"Work towards a new universal climate change agreement was today strengthened through the issuance of the first comprehensive draft of the agreement," the UN Climate Secretariat said in a statement of the draft.

Almost 150 nations, including major emitters led by China and the United States, have submitted plans to the United Nations for curbing greenhouse gas emissions blamed by the UN for causing more floods, droughts and heatwaves.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), which fears rising sea levels, welcomed the new text as preserving key options such as rising funds to help developing nations.

"The contours of the package are coming together; most of the world has submitted a plan for action; and political momentum is as high as it's ever been," said Amjad Abdulla of the Maldives, chief negotiator of AOSIS. "But the devil is in the details," he said. It is unclear how far nations will accept the draft as a basis for the Paris accord.

Jennifer Morgan, of the World Resources Institute think-tank, said the text was a "helpful launching pad for reaching common ground" for preparatory talks in Bonn, Germany, in two weeks' time.

The draft leaves many options open - such as a long-term goal that might mean phasing out fossil fuels.

Environmental group Greenpeace said the text lacked a clear push for renewable energies. "It's a reasonable length but the Paris agreement should not rely on false solutions, such as nuclear power," said Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace.